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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2013 Mar;15(1):45-52.

Successful brain aging: plasticity, environmental enrichment, and lifestyle.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.


in English, French, Spanish

Aging is a physiological process that can develop without the appearance of concurrent diseases. However, very frequently, older people suffer from memory loss and an accelerated cognitive decline. Studies of the neurobiology of aging are beginning to decipher the mechanisms underlying not only the physiology of aging of the brain but also the mechanisms that make people more vulnerable to cognitive dysfunction and neurodegenerative diseases. Today we know that the aging brain retains a considerable functional plasticity, and that this plasticity is positively promoted by genes activated by different lifestyle factors. In this article some of these lifestyle factors and their mechanisms of action are reviewed, including environmental enrichment and the importance of food intake and some nutrients. Aerobic physical exercise and reduction of chronic stress are also briefly reviewed. It is proposed that lifestyle factors are powerful instruments to promote healthy and successful aging of the brain and delay the appearance of age-related cognitive deficits in elderly people.


aging; caloric restriction; cognitive exercise; corticosterone; environmental enrichment; lifestyle; physical exercise; plasticity; stress

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